The apartment is located in the district of Pinheiros, in the central and most rich region of the city of São Paulo - Brazil. It is a mixed-use neighborhood known for artistic manifestations, mainly graffiti and bohemian life. Its bars, shops, and restaurants are references in the city and guarantee residents a diverse, cultural and dynamic urban lifestyle. The building that contemplates the object of our intervention dates from 1996, a period of intense verticalization of the district. Its structure was conceived in concrete and hidden under crown molding, plaster lining, and thick masonry. The walls separate the service space from social, revealing much of the Brazilian domestic experience marked by a colonial and slave-holding past.
This architectural option signals the intention to hide the service of conviviality since, in our society, many times, the services are not performed by the owners. Usually, employees with daily frequency perform the domestic services: in general, women, black, who live on the periphery and are intentionally excluded from access and opportunities by successive governments. Due to the distance between home and work, many of the contractors provide a minimum square footage room connected to the service area, so that these employees can sleep at the workplace during the week. They are called in the architectural plan the "maid's room".
Therefore, questioning and re-signifying this room would be the premise of our project. Initially, the owner's intention – who had little money to invest in the renovation of the apartment – was to replace the internal coatings with more sumptuous options to make the property more attractive to potential buyers interested in the neighborhood and the lifestyle that it provides. In our understanding, however, the change of coatings would not bring structural changes to the space and the dynamics of experiencing it. Therefore we indicate precisely the opposite: investing in a structural renovation of the space and saving on coatings and finishes.
The project focuses on the subtraction of closures and coatings – so that there is no spatial distinction between social and service – and on the addition of two objects that organize the space: the organic-shaped island in concrete and the ceramic screen. There is also a third object, which was not added but revealed: a 1.70m pillar, with a sculptural presence, which marks the chromatic and sensorial opposition between the kitchen and the living room.
Floating over the white continuous microcement floor, where the "maid's room" used to be, is the central meeting point in the apartment: the organically shaped island in concrete, which seems to orbit around the massive pillar. The insertion of the screen covered with ceramic plates in front of the entrance door allows the space that was previously unused due to the angles of the walls to now be incorporated into the use of the room, a welcoming environment of warm tones, with restored and whitened ipe wood flooring, and joinery in Tauari wood.